The United Church congratulates the Government of Canada on its leadership in announcing up to $10 million in emergency humanitarian assistance for Palestinian refugees. This announcement reflects the values of compassion and respect for human rights that Canadians uphold. Together with other Canadian churches and church agencies, we continue to be deeply concerned about the worsening plight of vulnerable Palestinian refugees.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, made the announcement on March 15, 2018. In a recent letter to Minister Bibeau regarding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Moderator Jordan Cantwell stated, “What is at stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community of 5.3 million Palestinian refugees, many of whom are women and girls, who have endured 70 years of injustice and uncertainty.”

The church hopes that this move by Canada will encourage other governments to provide additional funding to UNRWA to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It is also hoped that this funding will be in addition to that which the government already provides to UNRWA, and we look forward to the government maintaining or increasing its annual commitment to UNRWA of $25 million.

Dr. Bernard Sabella at The Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (a Mission & Service partner) said, “At a time when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is at a stalemate and the peace process appears to go nowhere, Palestinian refugees remain entitled to the attention of the international community precisely as stated in Reverend Cantwell’s message to the Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides assistance, protection, and humanitarian services for about five million Palestinian refugees in the Near East. This additional support will help meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and Gaza by providing food assistance to over one million people and other essential humanitarian assistance.